Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?

From its very beginnings, the USAmerican comic book industry has been dominated by white characters. Whether we’re talking genres like crime, romance, horror, or science fiction, the industry has demonstrated a very clear bias in favor of white people (specifically white, heterosexual, cisgender men, but my focus here is on race). This holds true for my genre of choice: superheroes. For most of the history of superhero comics, white people have been headliners. From the Golden Age to the Silver Age, through the Bronze Age and into the Copper Age, the overwhelming majority of characters with their own comics have been white people. Even when writers began featuring characters of color in their stories (think of heroes like the Black Panther, the Falcon, Shang-Chi, Sunfire, Red Wolf, Karma, Danielle Moonstar, Storm, Tyroc, Dawnstar, Invisible Kid II, Vixen, Vibe, Black Lightning), these characters were typically members of teams, or background supporting characters. Rarely did they carry books of their own. It was almost always white people who had their own comics.

Even as we entered the Modern Age of comics, there have still been relatively few comic books featuring People of Color as the main characters, at least not at Marvel and DC. That’s not to say there have been none. Milestone Comics was a DC imprint in the 90s which featured primarily African-American leads in all their titles (Milestone 2.0 is on the way in the not-to-distant future too). And in the last few decades, a handful of characters of color have held their own titles at Marvel and DC-some for a short time, others for several years (Steel, Black Panther, Storm, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel and others). But even today, the industry is still dominated by white characters.

The lack of People of Color starring as the lead in their own books falls on the shoulders of creators and publishers to a large degree (some of it is certainly the market to some degree). The people making comic books and producing comic books have predominately been white. So of course, they’re going to write and publish what they know. As a result, we’ve had a plethora of white characters. It’s not necessarily a deliberate thing. I don’t believe writers for DC or Marvel down through the years said “I want to create a new character or a new comic book and I want a white lead character and mostly white supporting cast”. Nor do I think the Editors-in-Chief at Marvel or DC sat down and said “We need to publish another book with a white character as the lead”. But the bias in favor of white people that exists all throughout our society manifests in all its corners. And “white” has long been considered the default in our culture. It’s the automatic assumptions laden in society (which can be seen when you realize that white people are often described as “that guy” or “that woman”, but People of Color are often described as “that black woman” or “that Hispanic guy”). It’s the standards of beauty that use white folks as the default. And yes, it’s the default to white characters on the part of creators and publishers of comic books when new titles and characters are created.

While the Big Two publishers have made strides to diversify their staff  in the last few years, their ethnic diversity initiatives have a long way to go before they reach anything at all representative of the wider USAmerican population. Similarly, while their publishing lines have expanded to appeal to ethnic demographics outside of white folks, they have a loooooooong way to go before they’re putting out enough product to satisfy the appetites of People of Color looking for greater diversity in the Big Two. For those people looking for books featuring People of Color in starring roles, or those looking to support creators of color, or both, it may be necessary to explore beyond Marvel and DC. Beyond superheroes. And beyond print comics for that matter. One example of a book featuring an ethnically diverse cast by a Person of Color recently came to my attention. New Jersey-based artist Paul Louise-Julie has worked to craft something visually stunning in his creation, Yohancé.

Continue reading “Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?”

Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?
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Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

They say it is best to arrive to a party fashionably late. How late that is can vary from person to person, but I’ve often heard 15-20 minutes is a reasonable time. If that’s the case, then I arrived UNfashionably late to the Marvel Cinematic Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Over the last 5 days, I’ve binge-watched all 26 episodes of each series (in-between catching up on Season 1 of Flash, a few episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the first three episodes of Young Justice Season 2, and a couple of episodes from Season 1 of Arrow), and I’ve got to say those 26 hours were some of the best television I’ve ever seen and definitely in the ranks of “best cinematic adaptations of comic book properties”. From the characters, to the stories, to the atmosphere, Daredevil and Jessica Jones hit near-perfect notes. If you haven’t seen either (and plan to at some point), I’ll be discussing plot points of both shows ahead. So read on only if you don’t mind spoilers:

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Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

Move over Bond, there’s a new tough guy in town

Idris Elba has a lot of fans and many of them would love to see him play the iconic superspy, James Bond. Of course there is vehement opposition to that idea, bc many people are wedded to the idea of their beloved fictional character remaining white bc reasons that I’ve yet to see elucidated. Never fear though. Come April 22, if you like the idea of Elba playing a superspy, you might want to check out “Bastille Day” where Elba plays an ex-CIA agent attempting to thwart a terrorist plot aimed at Bastille Day protesters.

(h/t Black Nerd Problems)

Move over Bond, there’s a new tough guy in town

I’m not seeing anything fabulous here

I hope my gay card doesn’t get revoked, but I know nothing about Absolutely Fabulous, other than the fact that it’s a highly regarded television series in the gay community. When I heard of this trailer, I thought I’d check it out. Having done so, I’m thoroughly underwhelmed. This trailer contained absolutely nothing that makes me want to see the movie. Meh. Maybe it’s not for me. Heeeeeeey, maybe we gay people don’t share the same tastes and aren’t interchangeable after all!

I’m not seeing anything fabulous here

Icelandic markets to demographics other than heterosexual men

It’s no secret that all across society, sex is used to sell products and services. Drive down the highway. Power up the computer. Turn on the television. From overt images that mimic sexual acts to sell food or vehicles to seemingly innocuous images used to sell body enhancement products, our society is permeated with suggestive or provocative images of sex.  What continues to strike me in our culture though, is that so often, sexual imagery in advertising is tailored to the heterosexual male gaze. Where is the marketing for people *other* than hetero men?

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Icelandic markets to demographics other than heterosexual men

Excitement level: Tepid

My love of superheroes extends beyond comic books and trade paperbacks. I like playing superhero video games (my favorite is  Spider-Man: Web of Shadows), watching superhero television shows (CW’s The Flash is arguably my favorite), and of course, watching superhero movies. I love me some superhero movies. For the longest time, my favorite was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (yes, I’m a fan of Tobey-as-Spider-Man although Andrew Garfield did a good job too), but it was supplanted by the first Avengers movie, which hit *all* the notes I was looking for in a superhero movie (it didn’t hurt that my favorite comic book has been the Avengers for the last several decades). IMO, it was damn near perfect (it could have used another woman or two on the team, and at least one PoC). Aside from Avengers, there have been multiple superhero movies I consider among my all-time favorites, such as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, and X-Men: First Class. I really wanted to add Man of Steel to that list but I can’t. And I’m worried that I won’t be able to add Batman vs Superman to that list either bc based on Zack Snyder’s work on Man of Steel, my excitement level is lukewarm.

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Excitement level: Tepid

Haven’t the indigenous people of Australia suffered enough?

Imagine that you’re an app developer. You think you have a great idea for a game that you want to put on the Google Play store. You consider yourself a reasonable, rational person who wants to be well-informed about the development process.  At some point in the process, you would probably come across the Google Play Developer Program Policies, and specifically this section:

Violence and Bullying: Depictions of gratuitous violence are not allowed. Apps should not contain materials that threaten, harass or bully other users.
Hate Speech: We don’t allow content advocating against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Upon reading the above content guidelines for Google Play’s app store, you (the reasonable, rational game developer) would probably realize that a game that promotes bullying against lesbians would be prohibited. You’d also most likely realize that a game advocating for violence against disabled people would be a no-no as well. And of course a game that calls for violence against a racial or ethnic group would be absolutely out of the question. But that’s you, the reasonable, rational game developer, and not everyone is like you. No, some people think there is nothing wrong with developing a game like Survival Island 3:

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Haven’t the indigenous people of Australia suffered enough?

So you don’t understand the hubbub around #OscarsSoWhite?

Ok, so I read this comment on the Facebook page of a Root article on the lack of diversity in the Academy award nominations:

I’m just curious as to why people freak out and scream “Racism!” just because no black films were chosen. Maybe the committee just didn’t think they were good enough. Maybe I’m kinda playing devil’s advocate here but I’m genuinely curious.

This person clearly doesn’t understand why people (largely, though not exclusively, black folks) are crying “Racism!” over the Oscar nominations. People like this do not understand what the big deal is bc to them, these are just awards. They can’t seem to see beyond the awards and see the deeper problems. Or maybe they haven’t tried to view the world outside the lens of their privileged experiences. In any case, even though people like this are being blatantly racist (I mean, come the fuck on with this “black people just weren’t good enough” bullshit. Because white people, by default *are* good enough?!), I’m going to give a response that treats such inquiries in good faith (don’t ask me why). The following is my response to the queries of the above commenter about why African-Americans take issue with #OscarsSoWhite:

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So you don’t understand the hubbub around #OscarsSoWhite?

Oscars not so white after 2020?

“The award for Best Picture goes to Straight Outta Compton!”

“The Oscar for Best Actress goes to…Naomie Harris, Spectre!”

“The Best Actress award goes to Adepero Oduye, The Big Short!”

“And the award for Best Director goes to Ryan Coogler, for Creed!”

“And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to Michael B. Jordan, for Creed!”

“And the Best Actor award goes to Idris Elba, for Beasts of No Nation!”

“The best actress award goes to…Jada Pinkett Smitth, Magic Mike XXL!”

“The best actor award goes to John Boyega, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens!”

Were you hoping to hear any of the above at the 88th annual Academy Awards on February 28? I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it’s not going to happen, bc no black actors or directors have been nominated for an Academy Award this year. Guess we have to dust off the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

Continue reading “Oscars not so white after 2020?”

Oscars not so white after 2020?